Tuesday, June 3, 2014
A Beautiful Collision Here and Now: Life According to Trey (Part 2)
Trey was devastated, for sure, with what happened back in June. He was grateful the President, as a sort of consolation prize, invited him to a convention he was speaking at in a small town about 4 hours away.
But it wasn't his town. It wasn't his home.
Trey felt like he had missed his only opportunity to engage in a thoughtful and potentially critical conversation about his hopes and dreams, questions and concerns related to his community. Trey feared he would no longer be able to make the difference he had dreamed of for so long.
Dreams he had also kept hidden for far too long.
True, Trey had not been very active in the life of his church or volunteer and mission opportunities offered by the youth ministry. But that was only because he felt like they never really made any sort of difference. And being the introvert he was, he was never sure the youth pastor was interested in what he had to say.
Trey had always assumed the church and the youth mission trips were only about "spiritual" things.
Big churches like his own were only concerned about budget and butts. How many could we pack into this service, this trip, this program, this campaign, yada, yada...
Trey also had struggled with how people had reduced Jesus into a formula.
Trey once talked with one of the confirmation youth in the church, wait, maybe it was an elder, it doesn't matter. The point was, he asked one of them why they were a Christian and they said, because Jesus died for them so they could be forgiven of their sins and go to heaven when they die.
Seemed kind of boring in his mind. What's the point of the next 80 years if I am just living as though in a waiting room for the nurse to invite me into some pie-in-the sky, cloud-obsessed dwelling with naked angel babies playing harps.
Trey hated harps.
Trey also recalled when his grandmother passed away back in the fall. She wasn't that old, so not one of those, "she lived a good life" passings.
She was only in her 50s and died of an aneurism.
When the family was listed on the prayer chain, people would come up to him in good faith and tell him, "God was working for the good and had a plan."
"God was in control," they said, "and had let this happen for a reason."
Was the reason for his grandfather to quit Jesus? Because that's what happened. Trey feared, after this event, the same would happen to his father.
Trey feared it would happen to him. Would he quit Jesus, too?
It's not that he didn't believe God was there, but he doubted God "let this happen for a reason." Otherwise, God is a pretty lousy God. What good parent would let one of their children die, even ordain it to pass, so something else could happen for the benefit of another child?
Bogus, he thought.
Trey was laying on his bed, tossing a baseball up in the air, as he reflected on all that had happened this summer. He thought about his friends being away on a variety of service projects, youth retreats, and mission trips. Most he was not attending for a variety of reasons.
That's when the phone rang.
It was the youth pastor. She spoke with a sense of compassion that Trey had never heard before.
"Trey, I know you have been through a lot this past year. Baseball did not go the way you had planned, being cut from the sport you love. Your grandmother's passing, I can tell it still ways on you as it should. And while I am sure seeing the President was great, you were obviously burdened by what you have said was a missed opportunity by a simple misunderstanding of a letter. I am praying for you my friend, and want you to know we are here for you."
Trey didn't want to show too much emotion, but he felt the frog climbing up his throat and he fought back tears.
"Thanks, Hope. Really. Thanks."
"Trey," Hope replied. "I was wondering why you didn't sign up for our trip to Baltimore this summer? We'd love for you to come and a spot has recently opened up. Want to join?"
Trey began to share much about his concerns related to church, especially about how he never felt like what the trips were up to really made any difference. He even shared about why he was so frustrated about missing the dinner with the President.
"That was my chance to really make change happen. I came up with so many ideas."
Hope began to listen more and more, "Trey, we need you. The church is actually the very place for people like you to share your hopes and dreams. You don't need to wait for the President...or even a pastor. Youth are not only the future of the church, you are what God is doing now. Today. The Spirit is whispering, sometimes shouting, through teenagers who are passionate and view the world in a way many of us adults fail to notice. We need you. Now."
Trey had always thought Hope was like everyone else, but apparently not. She seemed to care about here and now, life on earth not only heaven. She even seemed to care about him. In fact, she said something he had never heard before.
"Trey, you have heard me say you are the temple of the Holy Spirit right? Do you know what that means?"
"Yea, I have heard that many times. Take care of your body and don't get tattoos, because you wouldn't spray paint the church."
"Seriously, that's what you have thought I meant? We need to get coffee sometime, I'll even show you my tattoo of 1 Peter 1:3-4 on my ankle...you may have never noticed."
Nope. That was a new one, Trey thought.
"Trey, you being a temple is a reminder that you are a mobile version of a collision between heaven and earth. The temple for God's people in ancient days was where heaven and earth met. The temple was like a miniature version of God's dreams for the world. It's where God dwelled. It was also originally a tent, and so it moved. That is, until God's people wanted to settle down and rival other nations and religions. So they turned it into a big building... "
"...kind of like what we have done with churches, right. Bigger is better?" Trey interjected.
"That's another conversation. But Jesus came into the world, as John says in his gospel, and templed among us- tabernacled actually. Jesus was the heaven-and-earth tent in human form. He came to show us what it could really look like. Then he invited us to be the same. That's why Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:16, "do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?" That's why God's people and the church are on mission. We go places near and far pointing others to where God's kingdom is come, Gods will is being done, and where heaven and earth are colliding together. We follow Jesus as miniature movements of Gods dream for the world. I guess you can even say we practice now, in the present, what we believe to be true about God's promised future."
Trey's mind was racing. He had never heard it explained like this before.
"Hope, hold up...you are blowing my mind right now. I need a notebook...gotta write some of this down."
"Trey, why don't we go grab some coffee. I want to share more, but I really want to hear from you. I want you to teach me about how heaven and earth may be colliding in and through you. Where do you long for God's justice, peace, and renewal to bust into the here and now as we follow Jesus, not without our fair share of doubts, together."
Trey thought for a minute.
"Hope, could we grab coffee in Baltimore?"
Hope was confused a bit, "why not the Starbucks down the road?"
"I was thinking we could talk on the mission trip."
Hope chuckled a bit.
"Yes, Trey. That would be great."
Trey hung up the fun and resumed tossing the baseball up in the air. Then it came to him, maybe Hope's invitation was going to be even better than the one he received on June 20th?
So he hopped on the youth ministry's website and was sure to read all the paperwork more thoroughly than the letter he pulled out from the mail.
Trey wanted to make sure he knew where he was supposed to be this time.
Thoughts to Ponder
1. How does this story illustrate the significance of being God's temple? What does this mean for the mission of the church?
2. How does this story illustrate the role of youth in living out the mission of the church?
3. What are some of the hoeps and dreams you have for your neighborhood, local cities, and even other parts of the world? How may God be calling you to embody a beautiful collision of heaven and earth in these places?
Part 1: A Rare and Bold Invitation